Why you should not sign up to use PastorsLine
Let’s be honest. Our PastorsLine dashboard offers so much that at times, it feels overwhelming. Here are some options to consider.
Is this enough to convince you not to move forward? Let’s check.
PastorsLine is not the platform for you right now if you are looking for a “2-door sports car” and an older, bigger SUV utility vehicle may not do it for you.
We prefer to think of PastorsLine as a vintage truck. The engine is superb. The craftsmanship is solid. In fact, we’ve been tinkering with its performance and features for a few years, not based on what we think you need but based on feedback from hundreds of churches. As a result, PastorsLine has become very powerful and useful.
Here are things we do that others may not do well.
- 2-way integrations with CCB and Planning Center. MailChimp is next on our list.
- Multiple users with some advanced controls.
- Multiple numbers to avoid the ‘inbox madness’.
- Some multicampus options: go beyond just one account while keeping connected to your campuses/departments.
- LandLine SMS: text-enable your church landline and reuse a number that your church already knows.
- NEW - We’ve just launched multiple keywords per campaign. Imagine being able to set up several keywords (e.g. Pray/Prayer) to trigger the same campaign, in order to catch errors or to allow you to use different words for branding purposes.
- Digital Connect Texts: because digital connect cards for guests are dead.
- Though texting is what we focus on, having the option to send a voice broadcast or receive a call might be of value to your ministry. You can call out on the numbers from the desktop and not your personal cell phone.
- Our pricing is very competitive at the moment. This might change in the future, so now is the time to lock in our rates. You get most of the features without having to pay an add-on fee.
And so much more…
However, the time spent on performance meant that the overall comfort suffered. The suspension springs are worn, so things get a little bumpy at times. The seats and exterior paint job are a little dated, so our web app doesn’t look as fresh as it could. The mobile app was still stuck in phase 1.
On the flip side, our church partners who use PastorsLine love what that vehicle can do for their church communication.
Essentially, PastorsLine is a workhorse for a fraction of the cost.
The good news is that for the next 3-6 months, we are putting a lot of TLC into that very area: the aesthetics. Of course, we will continue adding useful features as we think of ourselves as problem solvers: partnering with your church to bring more people closer to Christ. But comfort is important, too. When communication is comfortable, people tend to be in touch more, and that’s what we’re about—easily done, quality communication to build strong relationships.
So, here’s what we’re doing to improve things:
Cleaner Web Application that works across all browsers
We are working on a cleaner UI and better flow for our desktop app—same power but designed to minimize the overwhelming feeling and your learning curve. Our focus will initially be where most of the communication happens—the Inbox. Then we will move to the other areas. Here are a few samples of what we would be doing.
Mobile App …
By Q1 or Q2 2019, we plan on re-launching our mobile application to utilize more native features (Phase 2). This is a huge project (complete recode). It's already in progress and we are excited to give you a cleaner way to communicate with your members and visitors from your mobile devices. The initial versions will focus on sending and receiving messages. Later versions will include calling and other campaign options. We want you to be able to manage most or all aspects of your account from your mobile device by 2020.
So what does your church communication need right now? A utility vehicle that can do more or something else? If the former, we are your best investment that will keep giving—with the big bonus that you can influence changes.
Update 2019: Changes are coming soon!!!
In the “old days”…
Your church sent a text message using a long code (10-digit, telephone number).
Then, the cell phone providers began a campaign to reduce phone spam. As a result of their restrictions, short codes and toll-free numbers came back into use.
What happens now
Your church has 1 phone number:
Let’s say Jason Alexis (301-458-0402) receives a text from short code 77411 which was originally from YourChurch1 and User1 with Longcode1. When Jason Alexis replies to that message, it’s set to User1 from YourChurch1 to Longcode1 (whether it’s the sticky number or not). We know where to send it based on the statement above. Simple.
Your church has more than one number or the multicampus feature
In this case, the same short code (77411) may be used to send messages from different campuses, users, and long codes. For example: Jason Alexis (301-458-0402) receives a text from 77411 from YourChurch1 and User1 with Longcode1 AND he then receives another text from 77411 from YourChurch2 from User2 with Longcode2. Also, Jason Alexis may not receive just 2 messages, but several.
When Jason Alexis replies to a message, to which Church/User/Longcode should his message be sent?
The PastorsLine Logic
We send all Church/User/Longcode combinations a follow-up message like the following:
Confirmation required before the delivery of your last message.
Who did you intend the message to go to?
1. [Organization Short Name][240-341-3439]
2. [Organization Short Name][340-342-3438]
3. [Organization Short Name][740-343-3437]
0. Neither (skip)
Reply with 0, 1, 2 or 3
Options 1 – 3 (or 1-5, etc.) would be the last three (5, etc.) different users who texted that number. These users may be from the same account or across different accounts. The user would have received texts from those numbers.
The subscriber would need to reply with say 1 or 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5, etc.) to say where the message should go.
Previously, editing the date of birth (DOB) was only by means of clicking the dropdown calendar. This was time-consuming.
Now, the PastorsLine team has made the DOB box editable. Just type in the DOB in YYYY-MM-DD format.
For more information, check out this Help Desk article.
The “Reply STOP to Opt Out” option was disappearing when switching back and forth from short codes to toll-free numbers.
Now, it appears consistently in both cases.
We had disabled the short codes for old clients since using them was not really relevant. In light of the more aggressive filtering of bulk texts by the major mobile carriers (and many of the minor ones, too), short codes have become relevant again.
As a result, the short code default is “On”. It has now been re-enabled for old clients.
For more information on short codes, check out our Help Desk articles.
Smart syncing is stricter. Even if the systems finds one match, if the first/last name, email, the phone do not match exactly, we would not automatch.
Before, we did this for only one record, and the data from PastorsLine would override the one in the integration (PCO, CCB). That is logical and works well assuming the person texting in gives good information. If they give garbage, it’s not great.
Sometimes, as you clean something up, another issue is revealed. This is what happened with templates. Everyone using PastorsLine in the church was seeing all the templates…theirs and all the others.
Quite confusing to be sure.
Existing templates: Everyone will see all the templates. However, the list they see is linked to their user name. So, they can clean up that list (delete templates) without impacting the lists that other users see.
Any NEW template a user creates will only appear on that user’s individual template list.
Are you are a fan of the PastorsLine Templates feature?
Then, you will be happy to hear that it works in the new HUB, too.
Not yet using Templates to do more in less time?
Perhaps this is the opportunity you have been waiting for.
Basically, Templates in the HUB work the same way as in the Legacy App. The process just looks a little different.
Here is a walk-through and video for more information.
There were some changes in the Canadian Local Number Portability Consortium (CLNPC – http://www.clnpc.ca/). The result was that the Lookup API could not return carrier or portability details about Canadian numbers without a contract existing between the Twilio customer and the CLNPC.
PastorsLine has now signed and paid for such a contract. So, Canadian numbers are once again included in the Lookup API.
Even though texting is still the top communication form, there are many situations in which a voice message will be more effective.
Set up your Voice Broadcast by starting at the Inbox Tab or the Groups Tab — whichever works better for you. The full walkthrough is at this link.
There are currently 5 options for your voice recording:
A) Web Record – Record from your computer / web your voice broadcast
B) Mobile Record – Record your voice broadcast over the phone (PastorsLine will call you)
C) Upload MP3 – Upload a MP3 file you have already created
D) Text to Voice – Have an automated voice read your text to the recipient
E) Broadcast Library – Select from a list of previously used broadcasts (if saved as templates)
MAJOR Update—Coming soon: voice broadcasts with the New Hub.
It’s an improved design with the following options:
- record a voice broadcast directly from your browser
- do a phone call record
- upload an MP3
and then use and preview your text-to-voice option all via a sleek simple interface.
ETA for beta release is before Christmas.
Maybe you can send a nice heartwarming voice broadcast to your list wishing them a Merry Christmas.
You can even verify your cell or church landline as the caller ID, so they know who’s calling.
The legacy app (Inbox 1.0)
PastorsLine gave you the option of adding images, merge fields, templates, and/or links to your text messages.
The new HUB
Now, all these 4 options are available in the new HUB, too.
Time to check out the new HUB?
Have you been sticking with Inbox 1.0 because you use templates/links and they were not previously available in the new HUB? That made sense but now they are.
This means that most of the features of Inbox 1.0 are available via the HUB in a faster and more user-friendly way.
We suggest that it’s time to check things out for yourself (if you have not already done so).
This new page has not finished its development, but you can begin using it now.
Its purpose is to capture some global details about your organization.
At the moment, one of the big uses of these details is when reprocessing (resending) failed messages via a short code in cases of filtering by the mobile carriers. Read more about this here.
Short Organization Name
This field will allow up to 12 letters. This short name will be part of the unique signature created when resending failed messages.
So often, duality is seen as something negative (think Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or multiple personality disorder).
In this case, our PastorsLine duality is positive and very beneficial to everyone.
The way we are working at the moment
Each week, we spend dozens and dozens of hours on developing our new Hub AS WELL AS maintaining and improving our Legacy app.
Why aren’t we just working on the new hub?
We realized that the PastorsLine platform is huge. That means a new hub could take months and months to get right.
BTW…just to remind you…the new hub is not just a reskin. It is a completely new and separate app, written from scratch, which needs proper development and testing.
So, working just on a new hub would leave our current clients (who have supported us for years, thanks!) without the features they need.
Since we always prioritize our clients’ needs, there was no real choice. It was obvious that we needed to keep our Legacy app not only in great shape but even add the features which our current clients need now, and later move those features over to the new hub.
Those joining PastorsLine now are being directed to the new hub. They are helping us work out all the bugs, identifiying where we need to tweak the code.
Even some older clients are touching the new hub in some areas.
Want to try the new Hub?
Log in to PastorsLine. Click on My Profile. The User Settings page will open. At the top, it should say “New Hub Beta Testing (Try It)” [green arrow]. Click on that. The toggle switch [blue arrow] should be turned on, switching you over to the new hub by default.
Want to go back to the old hub? Just toggle the switch off and back you will go.
Why should you try the new Hub?
Everything which you could do from the old Inbox you can now do more easily and quickly from the new Hub.
Templates and Links
Yes, these are also on the new Hub. Recently added.
One last redesign
We’ve been building our new app for about a year now. Even during that relatively short time, technology has changed so much. As a result, we are doing some redesign. We really want this version of our app to be very future-forward.
Also, we are paying a lot of attention to the back end, including our different integrations.
A general makeover
PastorsLine is going to be easier on the eye with a toned-down theme.
In addition, it should be cleaner to work with.
Next big feature…voicemail
The current voice broadcast feature is a little bit dated and recording messages is not so user-friendly.
Our new voice broadcast feature, which will probably be ready in 3-4 weeks, will be much more dynamic.
You will be able to record voice messages with several, easily accessed options.
But there’s more…
Eventually, you will be able to write a message which can then be converted into a voice broadcast and later sent as an email. In this way, you will be able to communicate in a variety of ways with just one input.
We recently re-skinned our legacy PastorsLine app by applying basic UI and UX fixes.
This fix is a short-term solution.
We are continuing to rebuild our entire app from the ground up. The newer version is still in beta, and we are tweaking it weekly. This rebuild will include new features.
Why the reskin?
We recognized that rushing through a rebuild doesn’t add value to you, but we also recognized you need a better experience now in how the app behaves and how easy it is on your eyes.
We hope these tweaks will help you and your team with your current day-to-day texting as we continue to commit to doing a full revamp in the coming months.
Please report any issues you see.
Thanks for checking out our new hub.
It’s in early beta testing. We are still working on tweaks to complete our “Phase 1”.
Before using it for a large campaign, send yourself a test message, and then reply to it. Send a small group test…just to be sure it works as expected.
Please provide feedback (bugs or features) here –> https://feedback.pastorsline.com/
We require another week to completed all the modules before we can release it to you.
Option to handle your duplicate data within PastorsLine 2.0
Milestone 9 of 14 done. Milestone 10 is in progress. ETA May 20th for beta testing. Maybe sooner.
Here’s a preview.
We are on milestone 9. New ETA for beta testing is May 15th. Here’s a video update.
We apologize for the delay.
As of April 15th, 2019, we are on milestone 8 of 14 for our new Hub (communication hub – Inbox). It’s a major revamp. It started out in September 2018 with our designer and front-end developer, but we are closer towards the end than we ever were. The earlier milestones were the most challenging. New projected date for beta testing is May 15th.
Phase 1 covers a revamp of our inbox now called the “Hub” which should allow you to do most of your messaging, voice, groups, and contact management from this single center.
Later phases will cover other modules like the full contact page, groups, voice suite, campaigns, etc.
We are committed to ensuring we create a modern, fast app. Thanks for your patience.
Our aim is to complete our new, redesigned, communication hub inbox named The Hub.
* In the newer, revamped web app, you should have the ability to do everything you already do in our current version of the PastorsLine Inbox .
* You should be able to manage groups, contacts, and voice from The Hub.
* You should have access to our improved, top navigation flow.
* You should be able to work across all major browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge).
The PastorsLine platform is a church-driven, bulk texting platform developed and managed by church ‘insiders’. We know churches intimately. We’ve attended them, been part of their management teams and worked with them for many years. Our goal is to serve you by helping you spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. We’ve positioned ourselves to be your in-house, IT team for solutions to your communication issues. In addition to everything our platform can do, our partners love our responsiveness to their needs and fast tech support.
When we finished our evangelistic event in Houston, 70% of those who were baptized, communicated with me through PastorsLine...it had a big influence.
Evangelist, End Time Hope
We hired [PastorsLine] to assist us in a new “Small Group” initiative we were launching at our church. The tools they provided us with helped us monitor and take action on hundreds of responses. Our workflow was cut in half and our ability to track, monitor and follow through with the data gathered more than doubled.
Associate Pastor, New Believers
I belong to a Church Communications group on Facebook, and you were highly recommended. We signed up with you over others because we are a multi-generational church and you have an ability to reach people on landlines.
"Baptism Worship Service Reminders - bulk texting—we were blown away by the number of people who showed up."
Dir. of Admin.
The personal and almost immediate assistance at [PastorsLine] is so great! We feel valued and important! We love that it is church-based!!! … Jason and the team at [PastorsLine] are always ready to help, make things better, and they also welcome feedback.
Pastor @ College Drive Church
By using the same phone number for texting and calling you get people to remember your phone number. When it comes the time that are ready to reach out to us they know the phone number.
For us [a PastorsLine text-enabled church landline] has been huge for people to be able to text the number they already knew for our church. It means they don’t have to remember two different numbers when they are looking to try and get in touch with us. Most people don’t even realize its mostly an automated process.
Connections Pastor, The Exchange
At first, the landline feature seemed like it would overload the church secretary since everyone would have the church phone number saved in their phones. This has not happened! People are simply interacting with our events better than ever before! We love the landline feature.
Associate Pastor, Journey Church
I honestly never realized how many people must have been trying to text our landline all along! We never advertised our landline as a number you could text, but we have gotten multiple members of our congregation and even guests from some of our events to send us texts saying, ‘Thank you for this and that’, and it has been really great to see!
Joy Christian, Center,
St. Cloud, MN
It’s honestly the best feature that we have utilized. Being able to give one phone number for voice and text simplified our process.
Pastor Gateway Church, Ashland, KY
“[PastorsLine is] a huge answer to something we’ve been looking for. I was able to send a template with a field merge by scheduling it... ”
Dr. Matthew Robinson
Sending and receiving texts from our landline number is the #1 feature that ensures visitors and members can engage with us on the most relevant means of communication there is right now. Having one number to advertise, simplifies all graphics, ads, announcements, etc. for us, as well as for those we're trying to reach. I use PastorsLine EVERY DAY. It's changing the way we engage with our members - it's both easier and more effective.
PastorsLine has totally changed not only my workflow, but it's taken our "personal" factor up 10x! Just with our welcome process, we have gone from a 40% READ rate to a 40% CONVERSATION rate. That's just crazy!
So thanks 🙂
PastorsLine has been a fantastic tool which has enhanced communication with out church family. As with any tool, the secret is in learning how to use it effectively. I have been most excited when I see my church members telling their very own unchurched friends to text “PRAY” to our pastorsline number and have them join our prayer sessions.
Pastors, RGF Church
The land line is more familiar with our congregation. When we texted from the other number, some would inquire about who was sending the text as the number was unfamiliar, and we did not use it frequently, so by the time we sent another text, some had forgotten the number.
Myrna and Peter Rohdin
New Life Fellowship Church, Elmhurst, NY
““...the guest connection card...We had a great response -- people whose names and contact info we might not have captured otherwise. Our autoresponder directs them to our Welcome Center...where we have a gift...with their name on it."
The text message bible study invites are working great. We saw a huge increase from 5-6 to 10-12 and the numbers stayed consistent.